Thursday, May 31, 2012

Between Dusk and Dawn Winners (pt II)


            The first thing many people might notice when seeing Victor Lopez’s Director's Choice award image Unknown is its similarity with the famous painting used as the original cover of The Great Gatsby. Lopez didn’t realize how similar his photograph is to the book’s cover until a passing mention caused him to look it up. Regardless of this coincidence, Lopez says his true motivation is to create unique and striking images; to capture the world in such a way that no simple point-and-shoot or cell phone camera can.

            Night photography has always been especially appealing to Lopez:The night and darkness brings a whole different mood, such as mystery, unknowing, and a sense of fear of the darkness itself.” Observing the world at night reveals a different landscape. “When I took this picture something caught my attention; something that only happens when you look at the world in a whole different way. I found a new respect for the night and hoped I wouldn’t let it down while shooting it.”

            While Unknown was not originally intended to be part of a larger series, Lopez saw its potential to be a part of a larger project, which he is currently working on.

 Loneliness, a sense of fear, not knowing what lays behind the city lights, would be one of many tones this series would have; its meaning would be open to interpretation, everyone has their own way of seeing the world and maybe some of those ways could be captured through my images.
Between Dusk and Dawn: Night Photography is currently on view at The Kiernan Gallery through June 2, 2012.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Between Dusk and Dawn Winners (pt I)

                                         Juror's Choice: Dracula's Castle

             One of the most unique aspects of night photography is the way the limited light plays with the landscape to create new worlds. A great example of this is the Juror's Choice image, Dracula’s Castle by Samuel Féron, part of his larger series of the Krafla volcano in Iceland. He shot this series for multiple nights across several square miles of lava fields, craters, volcanic hot springs, and fumaroles.

The series I worked on aims to capture the different parts and impressions that we can get from this area: the hostility reflected by its inhospitable surroundings, the threatening feeling due to the very closed craters that may explode, and at the same time the strange beauty of this area that gives a feeling of quietness.
                             Blue Bubbles
            With such amazing topography, the Krafla volcano would surely be worthy to photograph by day. Féron sees much more potential in night photography however, not only in the Krafla volcano area, but everywhere: “For me, the night is an excellent way to get an alternative view of what is real, as I think that photography cannot be just a copy of reality.” The darkness of night creates such a different atmosphere that his imagination has room to blossom.

                                         Impact I

                                          Impact II

            Féron finds plenty of inspiration for working during the day, shooting in Bolivia, Ethiopia, the United States and elsewhere. His images of the barren landscape allude to a primal time. There is a sense of uneasiness in the shadows that play tricks on your mind and your imagination truly does run wild.

                                         Lava River

The exhibition From Dusk to Dawn: Night Photography runs through June 2. The closing reception is on June 1, from 5:00-7:30 PM.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dan Estabrook

The Kiernan Gallery is pleased to announce that the results of the First Annual Portfolio Showcase have been posted. The showcase is juried by acclaimed photographer Dan Estabrook. We’ve asked Dan a few questions about his work.

                                         Little Sea, 2010

Describe your path to alternative process photography. What led you to it, where did you start, and how did you end up working with calotypes and salted paper?

I didn't do much photography until college when, on a whim, I decided to try and get into a Basic Photo class. The professor was Christopher James and we hit it off right away. In a year I was doing Gum Prints, Cyanotypes, Van Dykes, Platinum Prints, Liquid Emulsions, and so on, although Gum was really my favorite. Later on, as my work developed and I started to imagine this made-up photographic history that I was creating, I knew I wanted to go back to the very beginnings of the art. More than any other process, it was the first experiments on paper that inspired me, especially Talbot's fumbled beginnings. It took me a long time to figure out the calotype process, but something about those ghostly images on paper still fascinates me.

                                                    Girl With Tattoos, 2010

Your work incorporates illustrative elements. Could you explain a bit about your choice to hand manipulate images? What is your interest in using other media?

Well, I think what first delighted me about alternative processes — especially the ones on paper — was that they are handmade. I was always drawing before I started working with photography, so the idea that you could make photographs by hand was thrilling. That fine paper surface is inherently conducive to drawing or painting, so it's hard just to leave it alone. Of course, there's a great history of this — retouching portraits, coloring in the cheeks and eyes and lips, painting out the skies on a negative. The evidence of the artist's hand creates a more visceral reaction to a photograph, I think. I mean that it stops becoming the mirror or window and just becomes another object. Even a thin paper print has weight and substance, but that's easy to forget when a picture is on it. What's more, I am mostly inspired by contemporary sculpture and drawing, so I am always looking for a way to bring out the thingness and the surface of a photograph.

                                         At Sea, 2007
Your commercial work has been featured in various publications, many of which are quite prestigious. This work is quite contemporary both in process and aesthetic. How do you balance your personal work with commercial assignments?

Well, I don't actually do a whole lot of commercial work and most of it is through friends and friends of friends. There is something wonderful about just trying to make a pretty picture and not worry too much about what it means, although I have been surprised by how much of my own style I can find in a color digital snapshot sometimes. I've done a lot of other jobs to pay the bills, though, from set design for TV commercials to CD covers and logos, and even some website design. I love being a bit in over my head and learning something new, and I do try to approach each thing on its own merits. Fundamentally, however, making art and doing commercial work are very different processes relying on very different parts of the brain. Recently I heard someone describe it this way: Designers use their skills to solve existing problems; Artists try to invent their own problems to solve.
                                                      Lula Magazine issue #3

Your work has a unique relationship between the past and present by exploring contemporary ideas and themes in a historical process. How do you think your work will be interpreted 150 years from now?

I like to think my work will only make more sense as time passes. What I'm after is not a recreation of the past, but an expression of how we look at the past from 150 years away — the way we think we know more now, laughing at the naiveté of, say, a Spirit Photograph. But what we look at (and how) reveals more of our present obsessions and ideas, I think, and on and on into the future. I think that distance of time is inherently beautiful — the small losses of information a distillation not a disappearance. It's like looking through the wrong end of a telescope where everything looks tiny and strange. The more time passes, the stranger and more beautiful it gets.

                                           Conjurer's Hands

Come see the First Annual Portfolio Showcase! The first exhibition, featuring Aspen Hochhalter, Cynthia Henebry, Dahe Kim, and Tommy Matthews runs from June 6 – July 14. The second exhibition features Nikki Segarra, Liz, Steketee, Ashley Kauschinger, and Rebecca Drolen and runs from July 18 – August 25.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Exhibiting Your Work: Self-promotion

Though I cannot speak for every gallery, The Kiernan Gallery works hard to get the word out about our exhibitions. Beyond the standard mailing list notifications, we strive to bring people into our online gallery through networking and developing relationships with art buyers and other gallerists. In order to make yourself stand out and get your work noticed, here are some ideas on how to promote your work in a group exhibition:

Show cards
The Kiernan Gallery does not make exhibition show cards because we cannot make a show card to feature every artist in an exhibition, nor do we not want to select a single image to represent the show at the expense of the other exhibitors. Making your own show card with your own image and information is a fantastic way to bring attention to your piece in the show.

As we all know, the costs of exhibiting work can add up. Spending the additional money for printed show cards is unnecessary. An electronic show card spreads word of your image in the exhibition just as well. Because they are electronic, there is no money wasted on printing and mailing, and they can be sent instantly. I prefer them to paper cards, as do many other gallerists. When making a card, I recommend using the same template provided from a printing service such as for size, trim area, and so forth. This makes printing easy if you decide to spring for physical cards. The back of the card should have:

  • Your name
  • Your website (if you have one)
  • The title of the exhibition (which appears on the gallery's website)
  • The name of the gallery
  • The gallery's address, hours, and website
  • You may wish to say “juried by…” so that you are not making it seem like a solo exhibition.
  • The Dates of the exhibition
  • The Date of the opening or closing reception
  • The title of the image you have used for your card

This is an example for our upcoming Portfolio Showcase:

Business cards
If you are exhibiting a certain body of work on a fairly regular basis, printing business cards featuring one of the images is a far less expensive alternative to tangible show cards. Sending a few business cards along with your work to the gallery is always a good idea. Putting an image you are showing on the cards associates you with that image, even when people might not remember your name.

Social Media
Social media can obviously be useful in promotion. However many artists have begun to find that easy-to-use sharing functions can create some ethical and legal issues. Uses and implications of social media are certainly important, so we will discuss them in-depth in another post.

In the end, being proactive and taking initiative is what really counts. Self-promotion and networking are the keys to furthering your career. So put yourself out there, submit, and promote.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Exhibiting Your Work: Pricing

Pricing Guidelines
One of the most important things to remember when pricing work is that the “worth” of the piece is based on perception. Apart from the actual value of the materials and framing, value is subjective. What one person may be willing to pay $700 for, another may not feel it is worth more than $50.

The first question to ask yourself is: Are you pricing to keep or pricing to sell? If you are looking to keep your piece, setting your price much higher than the piece is worth will almost guarantee that it won’t sell, especially if it is not a limited edition print and not professionally framed. If you are looking to sell be aware that you will not always make a profit. Would you be willing to have someone own the piece even if you had to take a bit of a financial loss or is it worth it to you to pay for return shipping and have your piece sit in your closet? You also have to take into consideration how often you plan on exhibiting said piece since it will be more likely to sell if it is displayed frequently. If you want it to sell, my best advice is to start the price at two to three times what it cost you to print, frame, and ship the image.

Reasons to raise the price over this guideline
Unique images will be worth more than those that might be reproduced more frequently. Limited edition prints should go up in price from the basic formula depending on how many are remaining. One-of-a-kind images, such as wet plates, should also go up in price accordingly.
Reasons to lower the price from this guideline:

Images that are not professionally framed are less archival. They may not have the same UV protection or use acid free materials and they will not be sealed against air and dust, potentially leading to deterioration over time. Likewise, images that do not have glass or Plexiglas are more prone to damage and may not be considered as valuable by potential buyers. Images that are mounted instead of framed, even with glass, also may not be considered as valuable due to the risk of deterioration of or damage to the image. This does differ from person to person, however, and depends on how they are able to visualize hanging the piece in their desired location. 

Pieces that are not for sale
Sometimes artists do not list a piece for sale. Typically said piece is a unique item, such as an alternative process piece that the artist would like to keep, or a personal image, such as a family member or self-portrait, that the artist feels is too intimate to have hanging in a stranger’s home.

One final thought: An artist who has been in two of our exhibitions recently shared a wonderful quote with me about framing and pricing, “…as I tell photographers when I've done speaking, ‘frame it so you like it, because it will probably be hanging in your house.’”